A NEW programme aimed at reducing pressure on accident and emergency departments in County Durham is now underway.

Positive Lives is a joint initiative between Durham County Council, Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group (DDES CCG) and North Durham CCG which hopes to reduce the number of patients who regularly attend accident and emergency services.

The pilot scheme focuses on individuals who often present at A&E with a need which cannot be treated medically, such as anxiety, unemployment, homelessness or depression and aims to change the way they are supported.

A Positive Lives lead will work one-to-one with these individuals to uncover the underlying cause of their crisis and they will then be offered access to the appropriate support in order to address their issues and improve well-being. Ongoing support will also be provided if needed and those involved will be able to access services appropriate to their needs.

The model has already been proven to work in Blackpool which saw a 92 per cent reduction in A&E attendances for those assessed as requiring this level of support.

Cllr Lucy Hovvels, Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “Positive Lives is an excellent example of our aim to provide higher quality, more personalised interventions which have already been shown to improve quality of life.

“The scheme will also help ease pressure on our emergency services and allow them to prioritise those cases that require urgent attention.”